Pro-Life Catholic Luminary Father Richard John Neuhaus Dies After Cancer Battle

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 8, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Catholic Luminary Father Richard John Neuhaus Dies After Cancer Battle

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 8
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Father Richard John Neuhaus, one of the leading Catholic thinkers on the pro-life side of the abortion debate has died at the age of 72. Neuhaus became very ill suddenly on Wednesday from several side effects from the cancer he was suffering and died Thursday morning.

Neuhaus became intimately involved in the pro-life movement after the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision and helped to unite pro-life advocates in both Catholic and Protestant circles.

He continued as an intellectual heavyweight — founding the journal Fist Things in 1990 — and became even more well-known for his advising President George W. Bush on pro-life matters.

His influence was so great on the president that his catch-phrase of "welcoming unborn children into life and protecting them under law" became Bush’s standard line any time he referenced pro-life matters.

That influence was noted as Time magazine, in 2005, hailed Father Neuhaus as one of the top 25 most influential religious leaders in America. Bush, himself, credited with Neuhaus as "helping me articulate these [religious] things.”

In his most recent column on pro-life concerns, Neuhaus hailed the pro-life movement for being the one of the few truly grassroots, people-driven political movement of modern times. He said the pro-life movement was what many left-wing political groups hoped to become.

"Whatever else it is, the pro-life movement of the last thirty-plus years is one of the most massive and sustained expressions of citizen participation in the history of the United States. Since the 1960s, citizen participation and the remoralizing of politics have been central goals of the left," he explained.

"The pro-life movement is a movement for change, indeed for what some view as the radical change of eliminating the unlimited abortion license," he said.

Neuhaus also understood how pro-abortion incoming president Barack Obama could easily erase decades of gains since the Roe decision.

Neuhaus wrote: "As abortion extremists put it, the woman has a right to a dead baby. Obama apparently agrees, even saying that it is a constitutional right. In this he goes farther than almost any reputable constitutional scholar, claiming that the abortion license is covered by a right to ‘privacy’ that is found not only in the “penumbra and emanations” of the Constitution but in the Constitution itself."

"This, together with his adamant support for the government funding of abortion and for the Freedom of Choice Act, which would eliminate all state regulation of abortion–including waiting periods, parental notification, and other very modest measures–leaves no doubt that Senator Obama is on the farthest edge of abortion extremism," he said.

Key players in the pro-life movement are well-informed about the influence Neuhaus has had, so much so that National Right to Life honored him last year by making him the keynote speaker of their annual convention.

Neuhaus and his brilliant analysis of the abortion problem will be missed. He was always able to transcend the bumper-sticker notions normally seen in the abortion debate to provide a logical assessment of how abortion has destroyed lives and denigrated society.

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